Tough Interview Questions: Tell Me What You Felt Was Unfair in Your Last Position |

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This is one of those tough interview questions for senior professionals is designed to see whether you are a whiner, a complainer or a professional.

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This is a question that will be asked of a senior professional, could be a C suite professional, could be someone at senior level with an organization. The question reads, "Tell me what you felt was unfair your last position."
Now, I would speak to two possible things and you have to speak in a very matter of fact manner because if you start going like this is a juicy question that you can really dive into, all you're doing is showing that you're a complainer.
So, answer number one might be something along the lines of (I'll give you a couple of variables on this), "You know, I stepped into an organization where senior leadership . . . it had been vacant for a while. And a lot of the best performers got cherry picked by colleagues of mine, before I came on board. So, I inherited not the A team, but a somewhat less than B team of individuals to do the work for us. I felt that was unfair. I think transfers should have been held until I got on board. But that's the way it played out." So, that becomes one type of answer.
Another type, which I actually find preferable, is just to say something along the lines of, "Hey, thinking of something as being unfair, is a response to something that . . . it just 'is.' You know, this is what I inherited. This is what I stepped into. I met with the senior leadership; they gave me a sense of what I was walking into. It was a little bit more profound than what was described to me but it's the way it is. As a leader, you have to deal with the way things are, and work with them, and bring them to a successful conclusion. So that, in this way, you're starting to get the outputs that you need from the team. You're starting to rebuild an organization." Yada, yada, yada.
So, notice how my style of speaking is very matter of fact in both answers. That's the way you should approach it.
In the first case, you speak to the team and how your colleagues have picked over the bones of the organization until you came on board, and cherry picked the best individuals out when you would have preferred that they had waited for you to join before that happens. Number two is there's nothing really unfair that goes on. It just is. It's business. It's not personal. And, thus, to me, unfair involves a personal response. Again, it's business, not personal.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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